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Alias Ruby Blade: A Story of Love and Revolution

March 30, 2014

USA | 2012 | 78 Minutes | Alex Meillier

The incredible true story of Kirsty Sword, a young Australian activist who aspired to be a documentary filmmaker, but instead became a underground operative for the Timorese resistance in Jakarta.

Alias Ruby Blade: A Story of Love and Revolution tells the remarkable love story of human rights activist Kirsty Sword and political prisoner Xanana Gusmão. Using the pseudonym "Ruby Blade," Kristy began working for the Timorese resistance, smuggling video equipment, computers, and audio cassettes to their leader Gusmão, who was serving a life sentence in the notorious Cipinang Prison. As they exchanged letters, video messages, paintings, photographs and even bonsai trees, they fell in love without ever having met. Through archival footage, accounts from friends, and interviews with Sword herself, this film not only explores their remarkable relationship, but also the history of a decade of resistance that ultimately led to the UN-organized referendum on East Timor in 1999 and the country's independence.


Human Rights Watch began to monitor human rights abuses in East Timor in the 1980s. According to a UN-sponsored truth and justice commission, approximately 178,000 people died from killings, starvation, and illness under Indonesian rule in East Timor from 1975 to 1999. The East Timor independence movement was extremely successful in internationalising awareness of human rights abuses by the Indonesian government. It involved dozens of solidarity organisations, intellectuals, and universities worldwide. East Timor finally became a sovereign state in May 2002, but the new state was not able to press the UN to pursue justice for crimes by the Indonesian government.

Director: Alex Meillier
Country: USA, Australia
Year: 2012
Running Time: 78 Minutes
Website: Official Film Website